Friday, 30 January 2009

Discover Japan #2: Chiba (THE EAST Campaign in Association with Japan National Tourist Organization London Office)

Chiba Prefecture is crisscrossed by rivers, surrounded by the sea and blessed with rich natural resources, including the water and forests. It is located on the eastern side of the Tokyo metropolitan area, and occupies a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. The southeastern part of the peninsula faces the Pacific Ocean, while the western side faces Tokyo Bay. The Prefecture adjoins the Tokyo metropolis and Saitama Prefecture to the northwest, and Ibaraki Prefecture to the north.

Land area and topography
Chiba Prefecture has a land area of 5,156.68 km2, making it the 28th largest prefecture in the country. It is larger than the total area of the Tokyo metropolis and Kanagawa Prefecture combined (as of October 1, 2005). The Prefecture has the Boso Hills, a chain of hills 200 to 300 m in height, and the relatively flat Shimousa plateau, Tone River basin, and plains along the Kujukuri coast. The coastline extends 534.3 km (as of March 31, 2005). It offers some highly varied scenery.

The region where present-day Chiba Prefecture is located originally consisted of three states, Awa-no-kuni, Kazusa-no-kuni, and Shimousa-no-kuni. According to the Kogoshui, or the Gleanings from Ancient Stories, a man called Ame-no-Tomi-no-Mikoto, along with some members of Imbe clan of Awa, proceeded to the eastern districts of Japan to grow hemp. They named the fertile hemp-growing district “Fusa-no-kuni,” or the land of Fusa (meaning hemp in ancient Japanese), and named the place “Awa-no-kuni” where Awa-no-Imbe resided. Later, the nearer part of Fusa-no-kuni from the capital was called “Kazusa-no-kuni,” and the farther part “Shimousa-no-kuni.” Now, the whole place where those three states were located is called “Boso”: “bo” in the word Boso was taken from one of the kanji characters used for Awa-no-kuni, and “so” was taken from the kanji characters used for the names of Kazusa-no-kuni and Shimousa-no-kuni. When the Kamakura Shogunate was about to begin, the Chiba Clan had become influential. In the age of provincial wars, the Satomi Clan became prevalent in Awa-no-kuni. After Ieyasu Tokugawa established the Tokugawa Shogunate in Edo, the Boso was considered as an important area that was directly influenced by the Shogunate, and was classified into two categories: territories directly controlled by the Shogunate and domains controlled by the Shogunate direct subordinates. Back then, all domains in Boso were relatively small, and the Sakura domain was the biggest. In 1871, the Meiji Government abolished the domain system and established the prefecture system. In Boso area, twenty-four prefectures were established, including Tateyama and Sakura Prefectures. Subsequently, the two regions of Kazusa and Awa merged into one to form Kisarazu Prefecture, and the region of Shimousa became Imba Prefecture.On June 15, 1873, Chiba Prefecture was established by integrating Kisarazu and Imba Prefectures. In 1983, the population of Chiba Prefecture exceeded 5 million. To commemorate this, June 15th was designated as the Prefecture’s official Citizens’ Day in 1984.

Greetings from the Governor
What sets Chiba Prefecture apart are its vast land area, interspersed with green rolling hills, and its mild climate that keeps flowers blooming all year round. Chiba is bordered by the sea on three sides. Its extensive coastline varies from wide sandy beaches as found around Kujukuri to rugged reefs, beckoning visitors to enjoy a wide range of all-season leisure activities, from swimming and sunbathing to camping, fishing and more. About six million people, Chiba Prefecture has achieved well balanced development between its agriculture, fishery, commerce and industry. With gateways to the world through Narita Airport and the Port of Chiba, and a good sampling of high-tech industries that have settled in the prefecture, Chiba is exceptionally well positioned to secure a leading role for itself among Japan’s prefectures. We want to make Chiba Prefecture a place where everybody, from young to old, can lead a full and meaningful life. To this end, we want to improve medical and welfare services, education, and other aspects of our society, protect the natural beauty of our prefecture so close to the Tokyo metropolitan area, and encourage the development of new industries under the motto of “Building an alluring Chiba for the 21st century”. Through the pages of this web site, we hope to introduce you to the many facets of our prefecture and leave you with an impression of the diverse beauty and possibilities it has to offer. Our homepage is currently under revision to make it more attractive and easier to use.
I hope you enjoy it.
- Akiko Domoto -
(Governor of Chiba Prefecture)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

People #5: Sarah Chang, One of the Most Remarkable Violinists

Violinist Sarah Chang is recognized the world over as one of classical music’s most captivating and gifted performers. One of the most remarkable violinists of any generation, she has matured into a young artist whose musical insight, technical virtuosity, and emotional range continue to astonish.

Appearing in the music capitals of Asia, Europe and the Americas, she has collaborated with most major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra amongst others. The esteemed conductors with whom she has worked include Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, André Previn, Michael Tilson Thomas and David Zinman.In recital last season, Sarah Chang toured Europe and the US (culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall) with pianist Ashley Wass and included in her programme a new sonata commissioned specially for her in memory of the late Isaac Stern by the American composer Richard Danielpour.

In past seasons, her recitals have included performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Symphony Hall in Boston, the Barbican Centre in London, the Philharmonie in Berlin as well as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.As a chamber musician, Sarah Chang has collaborated with such artists as Pinchas Zukerman, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yefim Bronfman, Martha Argerich, Leif Ove Andsnes, Stephen Kovacevich, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Lars Vogt and the late Isaac Stern.

In 2005/06 Sarah Chang toured with members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with a Sextet programme in summer festivals leading to a concert at the Berlin Philharmonie.Sarah Chang records exclusively for EMI Classics. Her widely lauded recordings include “Fire and Ice,” an album of popular shorter works for violin and orchestra, with Placido Domingo conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, a disc of chamber music for strings (Dvorak’s Sextet and Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence”) with current and former members of the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Dvorak’s Violin Concerto with the London Symphony and Sir Colin Davis, along with the Dvorak’s Piano Quintet (with Leif Ove Andsnes, Alex Kerr, Georg Faust and Wolfram Christ). She has also recorded a CD of French sonatas by Ravel, Saint-Saens and Franck, in collaboration with pianist Lars Vogt. Last season Sarah Chang recorded Prokofiev’s and Shostakovich’s first violin concertos live with the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle and this season recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which was released worldwide.

Born in Philadelphia to Korean parents, Sarah Chang began her violin studies at age 4 and promptly enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music, where she studied with the late Dorothy DeLay. Within a year she had already performed with several orchestras in the Philadelphia area.Her early auditions, at age 8, for Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti led to immediate engagements with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Sarah Chang has reached an even wider audience through numerous television and radio programs, concert broadcasts and best-selling records for EMI Classics throughout Europe, North America and the Far East. Along with Pete Sampras and Wynton Marsalis, she is a featured artist in Movado’s global advertising campaign “The Art of Time.”
In 2006, Sarah Chang was named by Newsweek as one of the Twenty Top Women on Leadership and in March last year, Sarah Chang was honoured to be named as a Young Global Leader for 2008 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for her professional achievements, commitment to society and potential in shaping the future of the world.
In 2005, Yale University named a chair in Sprague Hall in honor of Sarah Chang. In June 2004, she was given the honor of running with the Olympic Torch in New York, and became the youngest person ever to receive the Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame award. She is a past recipient of Gramophone’s “Young Artist of the Year” award, Germany’s “Echo” Schallplattenpreis, “Newcomer of the Year” honours at the International Classical Music Awards in London, and Korea’s “Nan Pa” award. In July 2005 she was awarded the Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana Prize, and in 1999 she received the Avery Fisher Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given to instrumentalists.

London Maum Meditation to Relocate It’s Centre to a Central Area

London Maum Meditation has announced that its New Malden centre will be moved to a central area due to its high popularity.

“Maum Meditation began in November 1996. Currently, there are 152 meditation centres located throughout the world where over 300,000 people have practised cleaning the mind and body using the simple and precise method to become Truth,” said Kwang Jae Kim, helper of London Maum Meditation.
“Maum Meditation distinctly defines the mind as an accumulation of pictures stored within the body and mind. These pictures are made up of memories of past experiences. They are taken with these eyes, ears, nose, and body and stored in the mind throughout life. The pictures mould us into the pattern of thinking, how we react, and habitual behaviour that is not our true self. These pictures stored in the mind hold the emotions, thoughts and attachments to people, places and things. They create the individual’s ‘Picture World’. As you practise Maum Meditation, you will realise the mind that was filled with pictures from the past being cleansed, eliminating all burdens. You will live in freedom,” he continued.

“As I read the flyer, I thought maybe this was the question that I wanted to answer for all my life,” said, Meelis Sei, a student of Maum Mediation in London.
“The flyer made me more curious about Maum Meditation, so I went to a free seminar the next day. The seminar was a little bit hard to understand at the beginning, but it was very interesting. The seminar was all about finding the true self in me by cleansing my mind. The method to mind cleansing was very easy. As weeks passed by, my mental condition got better and better. The panic attacks disappeared with my crazy thoughts as I continued to practice Maum Meditation”, he continued.
“My ‘roller coaster moodiness’ was gone too. Also I became stable and relaxed. Now I wake up full of happiness with gratitude for lights and air. I don’t feel tired and exhausted in the morning anymore. Working at the restaurant became easy and relaxed. After only three months of Maum Meditation, I changed so much that I could not believe it! My friends were surprised and happy about my changes,” Sei added.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Frozen Flower

A Frozen Flower is a 2008 South Korean film directed by Yoo Ha. A story particularly controversial is the characters’ violation of royal family protocol and their pursuit of both homosexual and bisexual love.

The film is set in Goryeo Dynasty Korea and stars Jo In-sung, Ju Jin-mo and Song Ji-hyo. In the end of Goryeo era politically manipulated by the Yuan Dynasty, the ambitious King of the Goryeo Dynasty organizes Kunryongwe. Hong Lim, the commander of Kunryongwe, captivates the King of Goryeo, and the Queen keeps her eyes on the relationship between Hong Lim and the King with a reluctant view.
Meanwhile, the bilateral relation between Goryeo and the Yuan gets worse as Yuan demands to install the cousin of the King in the Crown Prince of Goryeo with ascribing it to no son the King has. The King refuses it resolutely, so the high-ranking officials of Goryeo, who are in submission to Yuan, are discontented with the king. One day, the King gives Hong Lim a covert yet unobjectionable order to sleep with the Queen instead of himself to protect the independence of Goryeo from the Yuan by making a son, the successor to Goryeo throne.

A Frozen Flower is based on a true story from Goryeo Dynasty Korea and takes its title from a song of that era which described the sexual relationships between men and women.
It is the fifth feature film by director Yoo Ha, who wanted to make a change from his previous works by doing a historical film, saying, “I always felt uncomfortable with the genre but I felt I should try to overcome those feelings. It is also a new challenge for me to focus on a melodrama”.
He also stated that the film was “a love story between men”.

Jo In-sung was onboard from the beginning of the project, having turned down other acting roles to make A Frozen Flower his last work before enlisting for military service. He choose to appear in the film without knowing the exact details, having faith in the director following their earlier collaboration in 2005 on A Dirty Carnival. Jo began training for the role in August 2007, learning martial arts, fencing, horse riding and geomungo.
The casting of Ju Jin-mo as the king was announced in December 2007.

The budget for A Frozen Flower was $10 million and the film went into production on 16 April 2008. It was the first film to shoot at the newly built Jeonju Cinema Studio.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Lecture by David Warren, British Ambassador Tokyo

Date: Wednesday, 28th January 2009, 6.30pm
Venue: The Coffee Room, The East India Club, 16 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LH
Fee: Free (booking required)

Members will be extremely pleased to know that The British Ambassador in Tokyo, Mr David Warren has kindly agreed to give a talk to the Society during a forthcoming visit to London.
Mr Warren, who has been in post since the summer of 2008, has been asked to give his perceptions of the political, diplomatic and commercial situation in Japan. He has served twice before in the Tokyo Embassy and many of his other appointments have closely involved him in Japan – UK relations.
The annual talks by current British Ambassadors have provided very useful backdrops to the years ahead; they have been both relevant and useful and have always been extremely popular.
The Ambassador will speak for about 30-40 minutes, after which there will be time for discussionand questions. In the chair will be Mr Christopher Purvis. The Japanese Ambassador is also planning to be present.
A pay bar will be available in the Coffee Room from 6.00pm and also for a short time after the lecture. It can be reached by lift or stairs from the Main Hall of the Club, but coats and briefcases will have to be left in the cloakrooms which are downstairs in the basement level. You are therefore asked to arrive at the Club by 6.20 pm. Club rules require gentlemen to wear jackets and ties and for telephones to be switched off. The East India Club is in the north-west corner of St James’ Square. Please contact the Japan Society office on tel: 020 7828 6330 or email:

Restaurant Tour #5: Jin Restaurant

Having spent the afternoon of the 20th of January 2009 in Regent Street and Oxford Street in the West End of London I was looking forward to meeting a friend for dinner and relaxing.

The meal was at the JIN BARBEQUE RESTAURANT in Soho: 16 Bateman Street, London, W1D 3AH
Telephone number: 020 7734 0908
Opening times: (Monday to Saturday: 1200 hours to 1500 hours, 1800 hours to 2300 hours)

The Manager of the restaurant is Gu-Hee REE. The Chef-Chong Sung CHOI-has previously worked for multinational hotels in the USA and in Korea. He has also been responsible for preparing meals for Korean Airlines.

It is about a five minute walk from three tube stations. Turn left out of exit number 2 of Leicester Square station ( Northern and Piccadilly lines) along Charing Cross Road, left into Shaftesbury Avenue, right into Dean Street and Bateman Street is the third on the right.From Tottenham Court Road station ( Central and Northern lines) walk along Oxford Street towards Oxford Circus, turn left into Dean Street and Bateman Street is the second on the left.
From Piccadilly Circus station ( Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines) walk along Shaftesbury Avenue, left into Dean Street and Bateman Street is the third on the right.

The façade of the restaurant is white and quite striking. Upon entering there is a small and adequate bar on the left. The décor is stylish with black and silver chairs, ten tables with marble tops incorporating facilities for barbecues and bright lighting above each of these tables. There is room for up to forty diners.

The majority of patrons at this restaurant are from countries around the world. Many Korean people also dine here. A man and a woman-at a nearby table- said they have been here on a number of occasions over the last seven years, enjoyed the food and recommend it to their friends. The menu could be described as “Fusian” incorporating dishes from China, Japan and Korea. There are four different “Lunch Box” meals-chicken, beef, pork and fish-all at £10.00 each.

Five “Lunch Specials” each one consisting of three courses and costing £8.50:
* Steamed rice with seasoned vegetables
* Rice with stir fried squid marinated in chilli sauce
* A pork cutlet served with rice and salad* Fried noodles with mixed vegetables
* Fried rice with mixed food

Three set Korean BBQ meals are also available each consisting of four courses and costing £30.00, £35.00 and £40.00 respectively. Two set dinner menus at £35.00 and £40.00 with eight courses and ten courses respectively are also shown.

Our meal was chosen from the main menu:
* Pancake with seafood (Japanese style) with additional wafer thin ribbons of fish on the top- this was accompanied by Washibi sauce. I enjoyed this dish a great deal.

* Prawn Tempura Udon-battered and fried prawn and other vegetables accompanied by a soup containing thick noodles-another one of my favourites.

* Vegetable, beef and vegetable and prawn and vegetable rolls encased in rice pancakes-Vietnamese style-quite a bland taste compared to the other dishes.

* Assorted seafood and vegetables with mustard sauce-a well presented dish with the seafood in the centre of a round plate surrounded like the spokes of a wheel by assorted vegetables cut in thin slices.

* Stir fried seafood Udon- thick noodles fried together with the seafood. I am rather partial to thick noodles.

* Three types of Kimchi-Korean pickles-Chinese leaf, diced radish and stuffed cucumber accompanied the dishes. The tastes were excellent.

* Assorted fruit

* Caramelized sweet potato with Japanese Green Tea ice cream

This restaurant is an oasis of calm in the midst of the bustling area that Soho is with its theatres, clubs, public houses and an assortment of shops. China Town is nearby. It appeals to diners who expect efficient service, a pleasant atmosphere and meals of a good standard at reasonable prices.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Honda Launches All-New Wave 110i with PGM-FI

Honda has highlighted its two decades of leadership in the Thai motorcycle market by launching the Wave 110i, a family motorcycle that offers the greatest consumer benefits.

The Wave 110i is a trendy new vehicle in the “Modern Cub” style, designed under the “Precious Commuter” concept. It features cutting-edge PGM-FI technology, which creates a new standard for the family category. To connect with its target consumers, Honda has chosen Dan-Worrawech Danuwong, a famous singer-artist, as presenter for the Wave 110i, which comes in three different models and eight different color schemes. It will be sold from 15 January onwards at a starting price of 34,000 baht. Honda is targeting sales of 400,000 units per year for the Wave 110i.

According to Zenjiro Sakurai, President of A.P. Honda Co., Ltd., “The 2008 motorcycle market saw a total registration of 1,703,000 units, a 6.5% increase compared to the previous year. Honda accounted for 1,151,000 units of the total motorcycle registrations, which represents a 67.5% market share. Honda is clearly the market leader and we have successfully maintained this leadership for 20 consecutive years. Honda also has high growth potential for the family motorbike segment, with a total registration of 777,000 units, or 90% market share."

“In 2009, consumers are expected to be more discerning when they make major purchases, ensuring they get the greatest benefits. With its unique values of trust, economy and utility, the innovative Honda Wave 110i is expected to meet consumer demands. Today is a great opportunity for Honda to highlight its strength in family motorcycles. The Honda Wave 110i sets a new standard for family motorbikes and was upgraded to greater realize its potential in today’s highly competitive market.”

The “Wave 110i” was developed from the “Cub” series that has consistently received a tremendous welcome since its launch 10 years ago. To date, recorded sales of motorcycles in the “Cub” series total 7.4 million units. The latest model focuses on a modern image, engine efficiency and a high-tech fuel injection system that yields greater performance, fuel savings, and cleaner exhaust emissions.

Adopting the Athletic Form blending into curved design the Wave 110i reflects the strength and agility of a great athlete, enhancing ride enjoyment. The front part of the Wave 110i is outstanding with an eye-catching Multi-Reflector Headlight and turn signals featuring a special orange colored Crystal Eye Line making it more striking and noticeable from a long distance.The 3 dimension Renew Athletics Shield is designed to match with the front pediment while the inner shield is nicely fused with the front console protecting motorcyclists from water and wind under all conditions.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Exhibition: Paintings by Yuko Nasu, Special Private Tour and Talk

Date: Tuesday, 27th January 2009, 6.30pm
Exhibition: 22nd January to 21st February 2009
Venue: The Arts Gallery, 65 Davies Street, London, W1K 5DA
Fee: Free (booking required)

This special private exhibition tour and talk with emerging Japanese artist Yuko Nasu is exclusively for Japan Society members.The exhibition entitled John Doe: Imagined portraits of unknown people, presents a series of imaginary portraits capturing a unique personal vision that fuses British and Japanese culture.
Nasu’s work has historically explored issues of identity, perception and recognition. For John Doe, Nasu takes inspiration from the visual language of gossip magazines and discarded newspapers. Unfamiliar with thecultural references or celebrities in contemporary British media stories, Nasu is free to develop her own interpretations. Her work obsessively revisits this theme, combining a variety of physical features to forge new identities and imagined histories.
Nasu’s signature wide brush strokes and unique colour combinations add to the anonymity of her characters, creating a camouflage. This technique draws on viewers’ own preconceptions, resulting in a shared perspective of displacement, where both artist and viewer join a collaborative search for the real identity of the portraits.
As part of the exhibition there will be various other events at the same venue: please see the University of the Arts London website www. for further details. Please use the booking form in this booklet to reserve your place, or contact the Japan Society office on tel: 020 7828 6330 or email:

Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing, originally known as Laozi or Lao tzu, is a Chinese classic text. According to tradition, it was written around the 6th century BC by the sage Laozi, a record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court, by whose name the text is known in China. The text’s true authorship and date of composition or compilation are still debated. The Tao Te Ching is fundamental to the Taoist school of Chinese philosophy and strongly influenced other schools, such as Legalism and Neo-Confucianism. This ancient book is also central in Chinese religion, not only for Taoism but Chinese Buddhism, which when first introduced into China was largely interpreted through the use of Taoist words and concepts. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners have used the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, aided by hundreds of translations into Western languages. Depending on how the Tao Te Ching is interpreted, some ambiguous passages have multiple readings, ranging from political advice for rulers to practical wisdom for people. The following themes and concepts are central to interpreting the text:

Ineffability or Genesis
The Way that can be told of is not an unvarying way
The names that can be named are not unvarying names
It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang
The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind

These famous first lines of the Tao Te Ching state that the Tao is ineffable i.e. Tao is nameless, goes beyond distinctions, and transcends language. In Laozi’s Qingjing Jing he clarified the term Tao was nominated as he was trying to describe a state of existence before it happened and before time or space. Way or path happened to be the side meaning of Tao, ineffability would be just poetic. This is the Chinese creation myth from the primordial Tao. In the first twenty-four words in Chapter one, the author articulated an abstract cosmogony, in what would be the world outside of the cave before it took shape by Plato in his allegory of the cave.

The Mysterious Female
The Valley Spirit never dies
It is named the Mysterious Female
And the doorway of the Mysterious Female
Is the base from which Heaven and Earth sprang
It is there within us all the while
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry

Like the above description of the ineffable Tao as “the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures”, the Tao Te Ching advocates “female” (or Yin) values, emphasizing the passive, solid, and quiescent qualities of nature (which is opposed to the active and energetic), and “having without possessing”. Waley’s translation can also be understood as the Esoteric Feminine in that it can be known intuitively, that must be complemented by the masculine, “male” (or Yang), again amplified in Qingjing Jing. Yin and Yang should be balanced, “Know masculinity, Maintain femininity, and be a ravine for all under heaven.”

Returning (Union with the Primordial)
In Tao the only motion is returning
The only useful quality, weakness
For though all creatures under heaven are the products of Being
Being itself is the product of Not-being

Another theme is the eternal return, or what Mair calls “the continual return of the myriad creatures to the cosmic principle from which they arose.” There is a contrast between the rigidity of death and the weakness of life: “When he is born, man is soft and weak; in death he becomes stiff and hard. The ten thousand creatures and all plants and trees while they are alive are supple and soft, but when dead they become brittle and dry.” This is returning to the beginning of things, or to one’s own childhood.

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends
We turn clay to make a vesselBut it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends
We pierce doors and windows to make a house
And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not
Philosophical vacuity is a common theme among Asian wisdom traditions including Taoism (especially Wu wei “effortless action”), Buddhism, and some aspects of Confucianism. One could interpret the Tao Te Ching as a suite of variations on the “Powers of Nothingness”. This resonates with the Buddhist Shunyata philosophy of “form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” Looking at a traditional Chinese landscape, one can understand how emptiness (the unpainted) has the power of animating the trees, mountains, and rivers it surrounds. Emptiness can mean having no fixed preconceptions, preferences, intentions, or agenda. Since “The Sage has no heart of his own; He uses the heart of the people as his heart.” From a ruler’s point of view, it is a laissez-faire approach:

So a wise leader may say:
“I practice inaction, and the people look after themselves”
But from the Sage it is so hard at any price to get a single word
That when his task is accomplished, his work done
Throughout the country every one says:
“It happened of its own accord”

Knowledge and Humility
Knowing others is wisdom
Knowing the self is enlightenment
Mastering others requires force
Mastering the self requires strength
He who knows he has enough is rich
Perseverance is a sign of will power
He who stays where he is endures
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present

The Tao Te Ching praises self knowledge with emphasis on that knowledge coming with humility, to the extent of dis-acknowledging this knowledge. An interpretation on this knowledge being irrational in connection with Chapter 19 of Waley’s translation on “Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, And the people will be benefited a hundredfold.” seem to be inaccurate stemming from Feisheng qizi which is a reverse phrase meaning the truly exalted (sheng) and intellectual (zi) never claimed they are, which might as well be abolishing the notions of exaltation and intellectuality, meaning humbleness and humility of one’s enlightenment is crucial. Knowledge, like desire, should be diminished. “It was when intelligence and knowledge appeared that the Great Artifice began.”, similarly another examplar on lost in translation by a sinologist, the third and fourth stanzas reads Zihui zu You Dawei, which should be read in reverse as the first and second stanzas, that when the world is full deceit and falsehoods (Dawei), wisdom and intellectuality shall arise.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Discover Korean Food #5: Dr. Sook-Ja Yoon's "Haemul-pajeon" (THE EAST Campaign in Association with The Institute of Traditional Korean Food)

Haemul-pajeon is a savory pancake with plenty of green onion and seafood coated with mushy dough and beaten egg on top. Haemul-pajeon is a well-harmonized dish that is studded with soft green onions and tasty seafood. Dongnae-pajeon is a famous dish from the city of Busan.

◎ Ingredients & Quantity
* 100 g mussel flesh, 70 g clam flesh, 70 g oyster : 1 kg (5 cups) water, 2 g (½ tsp) salt
* seasonings : 4 g (1 tsp) salt, 0.3 g (⅛ tsp) ground black pepper
* 200 g small green onion, 10 g (1 ea) green pepper, 15 g (1 ea) red pepper
* dough : 95 g (1 cup) wheat flour, 30 g (⅓ cup) non-glutinous rice powder, 1 g (¼ tsp) salt, 200 g (1 cup) water
* 60 g (1 ea) egg
* 85 g (½ cup) edible oil
* vinegar soy sauce : 18 g (1 tbsp) soy sauce, 15 g (1 tbsp) vinegar, 15 g (1 tbsp) water

◎ Preparation
1. Wash seafoods in salt water softly and drain water on a strainer (190 g). Shred them into 1 cm-wide, season with salt and ground black pepper, then let it sit for 10 min.

2. Cut the green/red pepper into 2 cm-long and 0.3 cm-thick diagonally and seed. Trim and wash small green onion, cut into 10 cm-long (150 g).

3. Add non-glutinous rice powder, salt and water to the wheat flour, then mix thoroughly (270 g).

4. Beat egg.

5. Blend vinegar soy sauce.

◎ Recipe
1. Preheat the frying pan and oil. On medium heat, put half ladle of dough on the pan.

2. Place small green onion on the dough and add prepared seafoods, green/red pepper on it. Spread out another half ladle of dough on it, and spread 2~3 tbsp of beaten egg over it.

3. On medium heat, panfry for 5 min. When bottom is well-done, turn over, cover the lid, fry for another 3 min.

4. Serve with vinegar soy sauce.

About The Beauty of Korean Food: With 100 Best-Loved Recipes
Korean food has been appraised as a genuine, slow, healthy food for its organization with the seasons and regional specialties, harmony of food ingredients and combination of food groups. In spite of high interest in Korean food by global villagers, there haven't been any good books introducing Korean food with internationally comprehensible recipes. As part of the project "Research and Development Project for Standardization of Korean Cuisine" driven by the Korean government, this book is designed to standardize the recipes of the selected 100 Korean foods by using international system of units (SI unit) and to present the pleasure of cooking healthy Korean food easily for everyone around the world. It also gives useful tips, such as service temperature, total cooking time, suggested utensils, nutritional information for one serve, along with specific instructions for preparing ingredients and cooking.

About Dr. Sook-Ja Yoon
As a principal researcher of the Research and Development Project for the Standardization of Korean Cuisine, she has been in the lead to popularize and globalize the Korean food. She has been extending diverse R&D, lectures and writing books, and also acting as a publicity ambassador for the globalization of Korean food at the various overseas exhibitions. She has held the Special Exhibition of Korean Royal Court Cuisine during the APEC Korea in 2005 and promoted the 4th Korean Food Festival in UN Headquarters in 2007, won high praises from ambassadors to UN and overseas journals for the beauty and excellence of Korean food. Major works are: "Korean Food," "Traditional Korean Food," "The Store and Fermentation Food of Korea," "Korean Traditional tteok," "Cookies and Beverages," "Good Morning, Kimchi," "Gyuhapchongseo," "The Beauty of Wedding Food" and so on.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

This isn't romance: Soho Theatre and Akbar Kurtha present

Date: 12 February - 7 March 2009, 7:30pm
Venue: Soho Theatre Company Ltd, 21 Dean Street, London, W1D 3NE
Fee: £10 12-17 February, £15 (£12.50) 17-28 February, £20 (£17.50) 2-7 March, £7.50 Weekday matinees 26 February, 5 March, £10 Saturday matinees 21, 28 February, 7

Identity, sex, twisted revenge. An Anglo-Korean model returns to Seoul to find the brother she abandoned when adopted as a child.

A beautiful and brutal love story, this is the first play by British-Korean writer In-Sook Chappell, winner of the Verity Bargate Award 2007.

Designed by Jon BausorLighting by Jenny KaganSound by Matt McKenzieWith Sonnie Brown, Jennifer Lim (US), ElizabethTan and Mo Zainal.
For more details please see:

Korea Foods Ltd Celebrates Lunar New Year with 20% off from all Nongshim Products

Date: 22/01 ~ 24/01
Venue: KOREA FOODS CO. LTD, Unit 5, Wyvern Industrial Estate, Beverley Way, New Malden, Surrey, KT3 4PH, UK

Korea Foods Ltd, the biggest UK Korean Foods whole seller, announced to offer 20 % discounts from all Nongshin Products (except for Samdasu).

“We are so delighted to offer such discounts to help UK households amid current economic woes,” said Heewon Jun-Guedj, Purchasing Manager.

“Our mission is to promote Korean food and as such we are here as ambassadors. Our aim is to promote this exciting and expanding sector. At this critical economic situation, it is our commitment to contribute to society with our discounts and we hope many of our clients will take advantage of such offers during this Lunar New Year period,” she continued.

Originally established in 1999 Korea Foods has since grown to become the leading importer of Korean food in the UK. The company offers the widest range of Korean products in the UK and has an extensive range of Japanese, Chinese and Thai food. The main warehouse is in New Malden since 1999. The retail division is called Seoul Plaza and has two shops in New Malden High Street and one shop in Cambridge which has been an instant hit with the community there.

For more information about Korea Foods please see

'Green New Deal' is keyword for Korea

This is the third in a series of articles compiled by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on the government's project to restore and improve four major rivers -- the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeongsan Rivers -- across the country.
Once the four river project is finished by 2011, it will be possible for the country to avoid sustaining severe flood or drought damage. The ecosystems in and around the rivers will be restored to their original state to suit the surrounding nature. Boosting the economy and creating jobs through the project will serve as the prime mover for the revitalization of the Korean economy. Refurbished river areas will turn into local tourist attractions, contributing to improving the quality of life for local residents and galvanizing the local economies.

'No more worries about flood or drought'
In 2006, about 50,000 people were displaced after flood and property damage amounted to 4 trillion won (US$1=W1,360). When the 536 kilometers of riverbank are bolstered and five small and medium-sized dams or flood control facilities are completed through this project, it will be possible to contain flooding and protect people's lives and property. If the country succeeds in controlling flooding, it can each year save 2.7 trillion won, which would have otherwise been spent on coping with flood damage, and 4.2 trillion won, which would have been used to restore property damage.
Korea has been designated by the UN as a country facing imminent water shortage. We can supply water properly when drought hits, if we dredge the riverbeds and store water in catchment reservoirs. It will be also possible to store 220 million cubic meters of more water annually, if we improve the existing 96 farming reservoirs. If water flow is managed stably, it will be greatly conducive to improving the overall water quality of the rivers.

'Revival of rivers and environment'
As they have been left neglected for decades, Korea's rivers have seriously elevated riverbeds, and sediment and pollutants are decaying under the water. The Taehwa River in Ulsan, which once had been a river of death, was revived after polluted sediment was removed.
In particular, river margins will turn into eco-friendly wetlands. Once the four river project is accomplished, 640 hectares of wetland, twice the size of the land area of Yeouido island in central Seoul and 1,500 hectares of water-friendly areas, 50 times the size of Yeouido, will be created. These wetlands will reduce the amount of surface carbon by about 40 percent, thereby contributing to preventing global warming and reviving the rivers as they have water-purifying functions. In addition, various kinds of indigenous trees will be planted in nearby areas.
Solar power and small hydroelectric power plants will also be built in these locations. The green-belt areas near the four major rivers and new renewable energies generated there will help reduce 100,000 tons of carbon emissions every year. If this is converted into the value of carbon emissions trading rights, it will amount to 2.6 billion won per year.
Korea ranks top in the world in terms of the rate of increase in carbon emissions. In a post-Kyoto system that will kick off in 2013, the country will highly likely be included on a list of countries that will be obliged to reduce greenhouse gases. The four river project is a way to revive the rivers and environment, as well as part of a "low carbon, green growth" vision to prepare for a new global environment system.

'Economy to be revived'
To overcome the economic crisis, countries around the world are implementing massive public investment projects. Major countries are also focusing on environment and energy to boost their economies on a massive scale. They are implementing "green new deals" that aim to fulfill medium and long-term tasks necessitated by global warming and to galvanize their economies in the short term. The combined total amount of investments in the environment and energy sectors by world countries reaches 420 trillion won in the Korean currency, including government subsidies,.
The four river project is a Korean-version "Green New Deal." A total of 14 trillion won will be injected into this project by 2011, creating 190,000 new jobs. It will drive production amounting to 22 trillion won. The economic "virtuous cycle," which will be created, will save the Korean economy.

'Local economies to be rejuvenated'
When the four river project is completed, eco-friendly wetlands, walking paths and sports fields will be built. If sufficient water is stored in catchment reservoirs, it will be possible to enjoy water sports, such as yachting, windsurfing, canoeing, and kayaking. It will be also possible to hold cultural events or festivals at waterfronts, including on ferry piers.
If resort and tourist facilities are built along the rivers, and pleasure boats are plying the waters, the nearby regions will be turned into new tourist attractions and local economies will be greatly rejuvenated.
It will not be long before you can make a cross-country tour by bicycle on bike paths, whose total distance will be three times the length of Seoul-Busan Expressway.
If the environment changes, people will also change. If the four major rivers and surrounding regions change, the visitors there will have renewed mindsets and lifestyles. The quality of life for local residents will improve and they will live a more abundant life thanks to the economic effects arising from the project.

Written by Chung Myung-je (Chief Staff Writer /

Friday, 16 January 2009

2010 Honda Insight Hybrid Makes World Debut at the North American International Auto Show

The all-new 2010 Honda Insight hybrid car made its world debut today at the North American International Auto Show. Utilizing the latest generation of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology and new, more cost-efficient production methods, the 2010 Insight defines a new stage in the evolution of hybrid technology, providing hybrid customers with a new level of affordability, fun-to-drive performance, and a U.S. EPA city/highway fuel-economy rating of 40/43 miles per gallon.

The 2010 Insight will be launched at Honda dealers throughout the United States in the beginning of April 2009 and will be priced below the Civic Hybrid.

"Honda hybrids have always offered great value, high fuel efficiency and a healthy dose of fun near the middle price range in the Honda lineup," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "With the introduction of the all-new Insight, we're opening up Honda's fun-to-drive, versatile and fuel-efficient hybrid technology to an entirely new group of buyers that previously may not have considered a hybrid because of either image or cost."

Evoking the advanced and aerodynamic five-door sedan design first deployed on the revolutionary FCX Clarity fuel cell car, the new Insight has a low center of gravity and a spacious five-passenger cabin, offering the kind of driving experience and roomy, versatile interior space that customers have come to expect from Honda.
All Insights are powered by an advanced 1.3-liter SOHC aluminum-alloy i-VTEC engine and CVT, along with a new generation of Honda's IMA hybrid system for exceptional fuel economy and fun-to-drive performance.

The Insight's IMA system incorporates a 10-kilowatt (13 hp) electric motor and a compact Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) - recapturing and storing kinetic energy from vehicle braking and deceleration and supplying additional power for acceleration when needed. Packaging of the ultra-compact IMA battery and IPU in the vehicle's rear floor allows the enhanced utility of a 60/40 split and fold-down rear seat back.

The Insight's IMA system has the capability to operate exclusively on electric power in certain low- to mid-speed driving conditions. It also provides for cylinder deactivation within the gasoline engine during deceleration and for engine shutoff when the vehicle is stopped. With a 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the Insight delivers an estimated maximum driving range in excess of 400 miles.
Standard safety features on all Insights include dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags; front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side curtain airbag system; anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD); driver - and front-passenger active head restraints and a front body designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries. All new Insights also feature Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which provides improved crash compatibility between vehicles of different size and ride height, enhancing protection for Insight occupants while reducing the potential for injury to occupants of the opposing vehicle in a frontal collision.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

International Diplomacy Challenges for Britain and Japan: An Overview

Date: Wednesday 21st January 2009, 6.00pm
Venue: Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, London, NW1 4QP

This is the first seminar in a year-long series which will set the challenges facing the UK and Japan within the broader framework of international diplomacy. The series will analyse the structures and systems that allow for consultation and cooperation in national, regional and global contexts; it will consider bilateral and multilateral relationships against the backdrop of history and present-day and future agendas. The global financial crisis, international security, climate change and problems in the developing world are among the themes to be addressed through the year. In this opening session, the speakers will highlight some of the issues and concerns that are dominating the international stage, as seen through the lenses of Britain and Japan. On the evening following the US presidential inauguration, we anticipate discussion and debate on the impact of political change on the dynamics of international relations as well as the roles to be played by the UK and Japan in cooperating with the new US government.

Minister Sumio Kusaka is Consul-General (Head of Chancery), Embassy of Japan, London. After graduating from Chuo University in 1978, he joined the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, serving as Senior Coordinator of the G-7 Economic Summit (1995), Director in charge of APEC Affairs and the Developing Economic Division (1995). He was seconded to the Prime Minister's Office as Executive Secretary to the Chief Cabinet Secretary (1997) and served as Minister and Head of Chancery, Embassy of Japan, Washington DC (2000), Deputy Director-General, International Bureau, Ministry of Finance (2005) and Deputy Director-General, Economic Affairs Bureau, MOFA (2006). Minister Kusaka was a Fellow at Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University from 1999-2000.

William Horsley
is a journalist and writer on international affairs and Chairman of the Association of European Journalists in the UK. He took a degree in Japanese Studies at Oxford University in 1971 and was BBC Bureau Chief in Tokyo from 1983 to 1990, covering Japan, China and other parts of Asia for BBC TV and Radio. Since then, based in Germany and the UK, he has reported extensively on the re-shaping of Europe's political landscape after the end of the Cold War and major developments in world diplomacy. He left BBC News in 2007 to continue writing and broadcasting independently, and is now also international director of the Centre for Freedom of the Media attached to the University of Sheffield. He is the co-author with Roger Buckley of Nippon: New Superpower (BBC Books, 1990).

Sir Graham Fry
(chair) served as British Ambassador to Japan (2004-2008). He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1972 after graduating from Oxford University. He had postings at the British Embassy in Tokyo (1975-1978, 1989-1993) and Paris (1983-1987) and was British High Commissioner in Malaysia from 1998-2001.

To book, please go to Alternatively, please send your name, affiliation and address by email to email:

Visit Japan #6: Skiing in Japan (THE EAST Campaign in Association with Japan National Tourist Organization London Office)

Winter Sports in Japan
Japan has long been popular for its futuristic high-tech cities and ancient cities with exquisite gardens and temples, but its fantastic winter resorts have been a well kept secret. For at least four months every year Japan has some of the best and most reliable snowfalls in the world. There are huge amounts of fresh powder snow every day and there’s no need for a helicopter to get to it – all you need is a lift ticket.
Over 70% of Japan's land area is composed of mountains and the winters are governed by the Siberian air mass, the coldest air mass in the world. As a result at least four months every year the mountains in the central highlands and northern regions of Japan are blanketed with snow, making Japan's ski grounds among the best and most reliable in the world.
Japan was the first Asian country to host Winter Olympics in 1972 and then again in 1998. Yet despite the country's brilliant winter sports conditions and facilities few international skiers and snowboarders have ventured to Japan to experience its amazing powder snow, exciting cities such as Tokyo and Osaka and Japan’s beautiful ancient capitals Nara and Kyoto.
However, this is now all set to change. Most tour operators now offer great value packages for skiing and snowboarding in Japan so why don’t you try Japan for your next winter holiday?

Is Skiing in Japan Affordable?
Japan is a great value destination. Skiing and snowboarding are particularly popular with young people in Japan so resorts have been careful to keep their costs low. A full-day lift ticket at a major resort in Japan will cost around 4,500 yen (approx. £21/€27). All large resorts offer various accommodation options. Rates per person per night range from 6,500 yen (approx. £30/€39) including two meals at a minshuku (reasonable Japanese inns) or skiers lodges to 20,000 yen (approx. £93/€119) and up at first class hotels without meals.
In addition to fantastic skiing, ski holidays to Japan also offer visitors a completely different cultural experience that they do not get from skiing in the US or Europe. For example, Japanese cuisine and onsen (natural hot springs that skiers in Japan relax in after skiing) and also temples to visit when skiers want a break from the slopes. An annual winter highlight in Hokkaido is the Sapporo Snow Festival in early February.
The festival's huge and elaborate snow sculptures attract millions of viewers every year. Japan’s snow monkey’s are also not to be missed! You can also easily include a city break in Tokyo or Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto, which will this year be running a special winter campaign with exciting events and accommodation offers.
For detailed information about Japan’s many ski resorts visit

The East News